Oscar-Winner Richard Attenborough Dies at Age 90
by Justin Cook
Richard Attenborough, talented director and actor, has died at the age of 90. The legendary actor has had a career spanning 60 years in which he became a screen legend through films such as Jurassic Park, The Miracle on 34th Street, Hamlet, Elizabeth, The Railway Children, Doctor Dolittle, The Great Escape, and much more.
His son, Michael Attenborough, reported the news to the BBC and said that his father had been in poor health for some time now.
As gifted as Attenborough was in front of the camera, he was equally skilled behind the camera as well. In 1982, he won Best Director at the Academy Awards for Gandhi, which went on to win Best Picture.
The man also directed such notable films as Shadowlands, Chaplin, A Chorus Line, Cry Freedom, A Bridge Too Far, and Magic.
Chaplin was nominated for three Oscars, including one for the film’s lead, Robert Downey Jr., who stunned audiences as the title role of Charles Chaplin, while under the direction of Attenborough.
Being an actor himself helped Attenborough get marvelous performances out of his actors in the movies that he directed. His wide variety of jobs in the film industry gave him a unique perspective on film itself.
When his career began in the early 1940’s, he felt he was typecast as a coward in many of his movies. It was in 1947 when he got to show audiences his true acting chops when he played a young gangster in the film Brighton Rock. The role changed the course of his career.
He shined not only as a dramatic actor, but as a comedic one as well, with roles in such 1950’s comedies as I’m All Right Jack and Private Progress.
The actor had a very strong relationship with BAFTA as well, serving as president for seven years. He even garnered 11 BAFTA Award nominations and four wins.
In 1967 he received his first Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film The Sand Pepples. He even went on to win another one the next year for Dr. Dolittle. He later earned nominations for Best Director for his efforts with A Chorus Line and Cry Freedom.
As mentioned above, perhaps his most iconic role was as John Hammond in the massive Steven Spielberg directed blockbuster Jurassic Park. Despite only being on screen for a portion of the film, he played a crucial role and is one of the most memorable characters in the entire franchise. He reprised his role as the character in the film’s 1997 sequel.
The John Hughes remake of Miracle on 34th Street in 1994 had Attenborough play the role of Kris Kringle, which he was a perfect match for.
Attenborough also accomplished many things outside of the film industry as well. He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II and rose through the ranks to become a sergeant. Also in 1976 he received one of the world’s greatest honors when he was knighted.
Richard Attenborough was a man of many talents who will surely be missed. We send our condolences to his family through this difficult time.